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NRL bosses reassure Warriors as coaches agree to level playing field

The NRL has reassured the Warriors they will do everything possible to ensure they are part of a rescheduled season as the club's planned arrival in Australia this Sunday looks unlikely.

But rival coaches will also be doing their bit to help the Warriors by agreeing to hold their players back from full team training until the Auckland-based club is able to observe two weeks of mandatory quarantine and get back on the paddock.

The Warriors hierarchy spoke with ARL chairman Peter V'landys and NRL CEO Todd Greenberg on Wednesday about the logistics of a proposed May 28 return date and ensuring "both the welfare needs of the players are met and the club is not competitively disadvantaged when the competition restarts".

Should the Warriors relocate to Australia they will be required to quarantine for 14 days before they are allowed to train together, while New Zealand remains under lockdown until April 22.

May 4 was one proposed date for clubs to retain to training during last Thursday's CEOs phone hook-up, which would require the Warriors to depart New Zealand this week to meet after quarantining for a fortnight.

A Sunday departure looms as unlikely though given that date is a few days away and the Warriors still have several unknowns in their travel equations, including whether family members will be granted travel exemptions and how long the club would be based in Australia.

Members of the Rugby League Coaches Association (RLCA) have however made plans to only begin full team training once the Warriors have cleared quarantine and can do so as well.

We Stand As One

The likes of Wayne Bennett, Trent Robinson, Craig Bellamy, Des Hasler, Michael Maguire and Ivan Cleary are among the coaches that make up the newly formed RLCA.

"As a collective the coaches agreed that it's only fair to wait for everyone to be in the same position to restart the comp," RLCA chief executive Kelly Egan told NRL.com.

"The Warriors are under a different level of lockdown to us in Australia, and you've got to remember they've had to self-isolate after they've returned to New Zealand as well.

"So they've had different timelines to work under, and the idea came up and it's been agreed that it's only fair and reasonable that all clubs are treated the same."

V'landys and Greenberg on Wednesday held a lengthy phone hook-up with Warriors chairman Rob Croot and CEO Cameron George, with V'landys reiterating the NRL's desire to have the Warriors partake in any rescheduled 2020 campaign.

The NRL is continuing to work with governments in Australia and New Zealand to find a way for the club to be viable in the wake of the travel restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We want the Warriors to be part of the 2020 season and we are doing everything we can to not only make that happen but provide the support they need at a family level," V’landys said.

"It’s important to understand that our aim to restart the competition on May 28 is still six weeks away. We’re not proposing to start the competition next week.

"Accordingly we have ample time to analyse the data and ensure the infection rate is at such a low level there is minimal risk to our players or the community.

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"It also gives us time to make all the necessary arrangements for the Warriors."

Greenberg said the NRL had asked for further information from the club about the "needs of players, preferred locations and requirements for the club to be relocated within the current government guidelines".

In a statement issued by the Warriors on Wednesday afternoon, George said there was still a lot of water to pass under the bridge before the club could be clear on its path for the rest of the season.

"I raised a number of matters with the NRL on behalf of the players late last week and we have made progress today," he said.

"The key for us is to be in possession of all the information we need so our players, football staff and their families have a full understanding of what we’re facing.

"There is still much detail to be worked through over the coming days but I’m encouraged with where we are now."